Your Carís Suspension
You know that smooth ride that you expect your car to provide? Itís all thanks to the suspension system. Basically, your carís suspension system is designed to maximize the friction between your tires and the surface of the road. That is how you have stability in steering and ultimately, control of your car. Actually, there are four major components that together help keep your riding experience smooth. They are the frame, which is supports the engine and body; the suspension system which supports the weight, and absorbs and dampens shock; the steering system which allows you to guide your car; and the tires and wheels.
A closer look into suspension, and youíd see it is comprised of the coil springs, dampers and anti-sway bars. There are four basic spring designs: coil, leaf, torsion bars and air springs. Coil springs are the most common and compress and expand to absorb the motion of the wheels. Leaf springs are made of many levels of metal (leaves) that work together as a single unit. They were first seen on horse-drawn carriage and on most American cars until 1985. Today, theyíre used on the majority of heavy trucks and heavy-duty vehicles. Torsion bars are anchored to the carís frame and use a twisting motion to provide the spring force. This was used extensively in the 1950s and 1960s. Air springs take advantage of the compressive qualities of air to absorb wheel vibrations.
The dampers of your car are either shock absorbers or struts and anti-sway bars. Dampers absorb the car spring because without it, you would have an extremely bouncy ride in an uncontrollable car. Shock absorbers slow down the vibrating motion of the springs in a process called dampening. The shock absorber is like an oil pump located between your carís frame and the wheels.
Another type of dampening structure is called the strut, which is a shock absorber mounted inside the coil spring. Struts provide two important functions: a dampening effect and structural support for your carís suspension system. Anti-sway bars work with shock absorbers or struts to give your car added stability. The anti-sway bar is a metal rod that extends the entire axle, and joins each side of the suspension, transferring movement to the other wheel as needed.
There are two types of suspension: front and rear. Front suspension is either a dependent or an independent system. Dependent front systems have a rigid front axle that connects to the front wheels, while the independent front system combines the shock absorber and coil spring into a single unit, which allows the wheels to move independently. There is also the double-wishbone suspension, which allows for a more consistent steering feel and is popular with larger cars.
Dependent rear suspension is the result of a solid axle that connects to the carís rear wheels, which makes it very simple and a preferred American design. Independent rear suspensions are basically a simplified version of their front counterparts. If both front and rear suspensions are independent, you have what manufacturers call four-wheel independent suspension.
And there you have the reason for a smooth car ride.
Johnny Nocera has been on the radio airwaves in Southwest Florida with ďDr. Johnnyís Car ClinicĒ on FOX News radio 92.5 FM, 1240/1270 AM every Saturday morning from 9-10 for more than 35 years. He also owns, along with his sons JR and Jimmy, Supreme Auto and Collision in downtown Naples, and has been in business for more than 37 years. Submit your automotive questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.